Increased awareness of duty of care issues means operators are fitting a variety of manual handling aids to their vehicles. However, not only do they make loading easier, they can also makes solid business sense, as Steve Banner reports

Major tail-lift makers

The choice of tail-lifts suitable for LCVs is extensive with more new products arriving regularly from a list of suppliers that includes Ross and Bonnyman and DEL Equipment.

. Ratcliff Palfinger is promoting the 500kg capacity U Frame Flexi-Lift tail lift. Suitable for 3.5-tonners, it is designed so there is no need for the rear light clusters to be moved during fitting, and weighs either 115kg or 150kg depending on the exact specifications.

Hinged ramps for the platform are on offer as an option, as are a non-slip surface, roll stops on certain sizes of platform, and drop-in safety gates.

Moving up the weight scale, Ratcliff Palfinger has introduced a lightweight 1000kg-capacity tuckaway lift suitable for 7.5-tonners. It comes with a folding, 1150mm-deep by 2000mm-wide aluminium platform fitted with two torsion springs for ease of operation. It weighs a modest 225kg, which excludes the floor end-plate designed to stop moisture entering the vehicle’s cargo area during cleaning and bad weather. It and the Flexi-Lift come with restart protection as an option. It’s a device that ensures power isn’t drained from the vehicle’s battery by tail lift usage to such an extent that the engine won’t start.

Ratcliff Palfinger has also developed an all-aluminium 1000kg-capacity tail-lift suitable for box-bodied 7.5-tonners with a platform that can double as the rear closure, eliminating the need for a roller shutter door. It’s in service with County Car and Van Hire among others.

. Ray Smith Group is busy promoting its new up-and-over tail lift, which will raise either 300kg or 400kg depending on the version specified. Designed to be fitted inside a van’s load area just behind the rear doors, it comes with a 1500mm-long by 1300mm-wide platform that is stowed beneath the roof.

. Crane and tail-lift supplier Penny Hydraulics has just launched a tail lift suitable for 4×4 pick-ups. Known as Easyloader it will lift 550kg and has a cantilever action, which means that no under-slung columns, ropes or chains can snag on the ground when driving over rough terrain. It also means the platform moves away from the back of the vehicle as it is lowered to the ground, allowing a standard tow bar to be fitted.

Under an agreement between Penny Hydraulics and Nissan the latter’s D22 pick-up can be ordered complete with an Easyloader or a Swing Lift crane. Different versions of Swing Lift can be specified for D22 with capacities of up to 500kg.

Penny’s entire crane line-up encompasses equipment that will raise up to 2000kg. Its Swing Lift V Range V20 will cope with that amount of weight at an unextended boom length of 1.4m and will hoist 770kg at its maximum reach of 3.5m. The firm also offers Winchpack, a self-contained electric winch and rope assembly that can be used on any light commercial with a towbar – that’s where it’s mounted – to provide extra load-handling capabilities. With a line pull capacity of as much as 2238kg, depending on the version selected, it comes with rope lengths of up to 27m.

. Tipper body specialist Tipmaster offers a range of tail-lifts and cranes. The former, marketed under the Tommy Lift banner, are designed to be fitted to pick-ups and will lift 500kg. The latter are sold as Swift Lifts and will raise 300kg.

Also in its catalogue are lifts that can handle 120- to 240-litre capacity wheelie bins. They’re suitable for use with Tipmaster’s Dustmaster tipper body refuse hoods.